In an over-saturated market, it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out and build a captivated audience. With so many options how do you convince customers to spend their dollars and invest in your products rather than your competitors? One way to cut through the noise and is to create a connection with your audience by clearly defining your brand purpose and strategically sharing your message.
Brand messaging refers to the underlying value conveyed to your audience through your language and the content you produce across various digital and non-digital platforms. Your messaging is what helps customers relate to your brand and inspires, persuades and encourages them to want to buy your product and be a part of your community. In many cases, your brand message answers the questions -- who are you, what do you do, why do you do it and how are you different from your competitors.
Take Everlane for example. Everlane is a retailer who's popularity skyrocketed within the past few years. Simply put, Everlane’s message is, “Know your factories. Know your costs. Always ask why.” They want people to know that A) they believe in the integrity of a factory and only want to work with factories that have great work conditions and where they’ve been able to create a personal relationship with the factory owners. B) they believe customers have the right to know the true production costs and not pay extreme markup prices for clothing. And finally, C) they believe in change, asking questions and adapting to better alternatives. Everlane has a strong understanding of their message and, who their customer is. Because of this they've found ways to strategically share their message with their community and connect with those whose values align to build a loyal community of customers who engage and support Everlane in every way.
So, how do you determine what your brand message is so that you can use it to build a loyal following and community of your own? Keep reading for six easy steps to get you headed in the right direction.
01 // IDENTIFY YOUR BRAND PURPOSE AND WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO YOU.
The first step to discovering your brand messaging is to identify what's important to you as a brand and what you stand for. In a world that’s over-saturated with brands and companies constantly marketing themselves and trying to sell something, people crave authenticity and genuine connections. They want to feel like more than just a dollar sign and want to support people/brands that align with their own personal ethos. Your brand purpose helps to give people a sense of who you are. It helps them to understand what your brand is all about and if their values align with yours, it helps them to fall in love with you and become a part of your community. The first step to determining your brand messaging is to pinpoint what you stand for and what you believe in.
02 // KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER
The number one thing that’s going to help you build an engaged audience is to know who your target customer is. Whether you’re finalizing the details of your lookbook, designing your website or picking fabrics, it’s important that you always create with a specific target customer in mind. You should always be able to easily and specifically answer the question, "who am I trying to attract.” By knowing who your target customer is and how your product benefits their lives, you can then effectively share your message and market your business in a way that will get the attention of your customers and eventually result in sales.
03 // UNDERSTAND YOUR EXISTING BRAND CULTURE.
The next step is to examine your current brand strategy and messaging -- what’s working, what’s not working. What are people saying about your brand? Does your target audience truly understand what your brand is about? Do they understand your ethos and your purpose? Have you made it clear to them through your current marketing what you're all about and how you're different than your competitors? Larger companies regularly conduct market research to understand how consumers perceive their brand - but as a small business owner with limited funds, a great alternative is to simply ask your audience. An easy test is to ask them to examine your online presence (website, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) and write down the adjectives that come to mind. This will give insight on whether or not your current messaging is portraying the message you want and will help you determine if any changes need to be made or, if you're spot on.
04 // EVALUATE YOUR COMPETITION
There are times when evaluating your competition has its benefits. Examining your competitors is helpful in knowing where you fit in the market and how you can differentiate your brand. It's also helpful to observe what strategies and tactics are working/not working for similar brands. By no means, however, should you directly copy your competition. Just because something works for them doesn't necessarily mean it will work for you. The point of evaluating your competition is to find ways to differentiate yourself.
05 // GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR MESSAGE
Once you've established the message you want to share with your audience, the next step is to share it. What can platforms -- digital and non-digital, can you utilize to share your message? What kind of blog post series can you publish that align with your ethos? What kind of stories can you share on Instagram to support your messaging? What kind of wording and written copy can you share on your website that tells your story? What kind of businesses can you partner with to push your story forward? Going back to our Everlane example, if you notice, Everlance doesn't just 'tell' their message by listing it on their about page. Instead, they've managed to intertwine their message into everything they do. Their website design and content, social media content, customer service practices and even their Snapchat stories all represent and share their message. This is an example of a job well done. What is your message? What do you want to share with your community? How can you intertwine your message into everything you do? The fun thing about marketing is that you can get as creative and intricate as you want. In fact, once you have a strong understanding of what your brand is, what it stands for and what it's NOT, it gets a little easier to share your message.
06 // STAY CONSISTENT
Once you've decided what your message is it's important to stay consistent. Consistency is what helps to build your brand and establishes credibility. Consistency helps people understand what you're about and align themselves with you. Businesses that haven’t taken the time to establish their foundation often send out mixed messages in their messages and tend to confuse their audience with mixed messages because they themselves, don’t really know what they’re marketing. It's totally okay if your focus alters a bit throughout the year but you shouldn't be changing gears monthly or even annually. Stay consistent.
Effective brand messaging is essential to creating customer relationships, building community and creating a competitive advantage. When done right, customers will view your brand as a culture rather than a logo in the midst of all the other logs. Creating a stand out brand takes time and can be a lot of work but, but it’s worth it!